Quo warranto case made NTC order ABS-CBN shutdown  

by Jet Hitosis
May 28, 2020
On May 3, 2020, Solicitor General Jose Calida (right) warned National Telecommunications Commission officials, including Chief Commissioner Gamaliel Cordova (left), that they could be charged with graft should they allow ABS-CBN to continue operations with an expired franchise.
PHOTO/S: tabloid.ph, Jerome Ascano, @SolGenCalida on Twitter

Inamin ng National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) na ang quo warranto petition na hinain laban sa ABS-CBN ang dahilan kaya ipinasara nito ang network.

Ang naghain ay si Solicitor General Jose Calida.

Ito ang sinabi ni NTC Commissioner Gamaliel Cordoba nang dumalo siya sa Senate hearing nitong Miyerkules, May 27.

Tinalakay ng Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes ang Senate Bill No. 1530.

Isinusulong ng panukala ang non-expiration ng legislative franchise ng isang kompanya kung maagap itong nakapaghain ng renewal bill sa Kongreso.

Kabilang si Cordoba sa mga resource persons sa pagdinig.

Ang hearing ay pinangunahan ni Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon bilang committee chairman.

Si Drilon din ang author ng Senate Bill 1530.

NTC: “WE NEVER ISSUED A PROVISIONAL LICENSE”

Sa hearing, inamin ni Cordoba kay Drilon na marami nang broadcasting companies ang nag-expire ang prangkisa pero hindi ipinatigil ng NTC ang kanilang operasyon.

May renewal application na raw kasi ang mga ito sa Kongreso.

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Hindi rin daw nag-isyu ang NTC ng provisional license sa mga nabanggit na kumpanya.

Hinayaan lang daw ng komisyon na magpatuloy ang operasyon ng mga ito.

“We never issued a provisional license to any broadcaster while their franchise was pending in Congress.

“What happened then was we just allowed them to continue operating,” sinabi ni Cordoba kay Drilon.

Una nang nireport ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) na anim na broadcasting firms at telecommunications companies ang nakapag-operate kahit expired ang prangkisa at walang provisional license.

Kasama rito ang Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Globe Innove, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (PT&T), Radio Marine Network Inc., Smart Communications, at Subic Broadcasting Corporation.

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QUO WARRANTO PETITION

Pero iba raw ang kaso ng ABS-CBN, ayon kay Cordoba.

Sa puntong ito inamin ng commissioner na kinonsidera ng NTC, sa pag-iisyu ng Cease and Desist Order sa ABS-CBN, ang quo warranto petition ni Calida laban sa network.

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Sabi ni Cordoba, “The difference from those instances and the ABS-CBN is that in ABS-CBN, a case for quo warranto was actually filed by the Office of the Solicitor General.

“Kaya po medyo naging untenable on our part to let it [network] continue because of the clear letter of the law in Republic Act 3846.”

Ang RA 3846 ay ang Radio Control Law, na nagsasabing “no person, firm, company, association, or corporation shall construct, install, establish, or operate a radio transmitting station, or radio receiving station used for commercial purposes, or a radio broadcasting station, without having first obtained a franchise from the Congress of the Philippines.”

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CALIDA VS ABS-CBN

February 10, 2020 nang personal na naghain si Calida ng quo warranto petition sa Supreme Court.

Nagsisilbing abogado ng gobyerno, ipinakakansela ng Solicitor General ang noon ay mapapaso nang prangkisa ng ABS-CBN.

Maraming taon na raw kasing nilalabag ng network ang ilang probisyon sa franchise nito, ayon kay Calida.

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May 3, o isang araw bago mag-expire ang ABS-CBN franchise, nagbanta ang Solicitor General na kakasuhan ang NTC officials kapag pinayagan nitong mag-operate ang network.

Legislative franchise lang daw ang maaaring sandigan ng broadcasting giant para magpatuloy ang kanyang operasyon, sabi ni Calida.

At Kongreso lang, aniya, ang makapagbibigay nito sa network, hindi ang NTC.

Ayon pa kay Calida, ang pupuwede lang daw ibigay ng NTC sa isang network na expired ang prangkisa ay isang Cease and Desist Order.

Pagsapit ng May 5, nagbaba nga ng Cease and Desist Order ang NTC para ipasara ang ABS-CBN.

NTC’S CEASE AND DESIST ORDER

Sa Senate hearing kahapon, binalikan ni Senator Francis Pangilinan ang kaso ng mga network at telcos na pinayagang mag-operate kahit paso na ang prangkisa.

Tinanong ni Pangilinan si Cordoba kung pupuwede rin bang magpalabas ang NTC ng Cease and Desist Order sa mga nabanggit na kumpanya noong panahong iyon.

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Sagot ni Cordoba, kayang ipasara ng NTC ang mga iyon sa bisa ng isang Cease and Desist Order.

Pero aminado ang commissioner na hindi nila ito ginawa.

Depensa ni Cordoba, naipasara ng NTC ang ilang broadcasting units na nag-operate illegally noong 2019 midterm elections.

Dito na pinansin ni Drilon na may “very clear inconsistency” ang NTC sa mga patakaran nito sa pag-iisyu ng Cease and Desist Order.

“This representation sees the very clear inconsistency in the manner which the NTC has applied its power to issue a Cease and Desist Order,” ani Drilon.

Paliwanag niya: “There was no Cease and Desist Order issued to various franchises which have expired while the application is pending in Congress, while, as the commissioner said, there were also radio stations which were operating without a franchise who were issued a Cease and Desist Order.”

Ang mga ganitong inconsistencies, ayon kay Drilon, ang nagbubunsod ng mga alegasyon ng “unequal protection of the law.”

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WHAT HAPPENS TO THE QUO WARRANTO PLEA?

Ngayong napaso na ang prangkisa ng ABS-CBN, ano ang mangyayari sa quo warranto petition laban sa network?

Sa interview ng CNN Philippines kay Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra nitong May 6, sinabi ng kalihim na mawawalan na ng silbi ang petisyon.

Pahayag ni Guevarra sa CNN: "The franchise being attacked or assailed by the [Office of the Solicitor General] has already expired last May 4.

"So, for that reason, there is nothing more that is the subject matter of that petition.

"There is nothing to revoke or to cancel anymore."

Mabilis namang nilinaw ni Guevarra na ang sinabi niya ay sariling opinyon lamang, at wala siyang intensiyong pangunahan ang magiging pasya ng Korte Suprema sa kaso.

At press time, wala pang desisyon ang Korte Suprema sa quo warranto case laban sa ABS-CBN.

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On May 3, 2020, Solicitor General Jose Calida (right) warned National Telecommunications Commission officials, including Chief Commissioner Gamaliel Cordova (left), that they could be charged with graft should they allow ABS-CBN to continue operations with an expired franchise.
PHOTO/S: tabloid.ph, Jerome Ascano, @SolGenCalida on Twitter
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